Complementary football has become a foreign term in these parts.
We know what it is. We’ve seen it. But it’s been so long since we saw it in action, our memories started to blur. Over the last three weeks, it’s starting to become crystal clear again.
The wins over the Los Angeles Chargers and Pittsburgh Steelers started to wipe away the cobwebs in our brains. But we still needed to see a more complete picture before we accepted it could be real.
Complementary football was on full display yet again in the Denver Broncos 24-10 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. In Sunday’s game, all three phases contributed and played off of each other. In others words, the offense, defense and special teams complemented each other.
As Adam Malnati and I said on the MHR Radio Podcast, Denver is becoming a complete team, and it’s a beautiful sight.
The #Broncos win vs the #Bengals keeps the playoff dream alive while also showing their growth. @AdamMalnati16 and I give credit to Vance Joseph, and, just like #BroncosCountry, cannot get enough @I_CU_boy on the latest @MileHighReport Radio Podcast. https://t.co/SaAs3A2lMv— Ian St. Clair (@IanStClair) December 3, 2018
In the second half, the Broncos special teams recovered a muffed punt to set up the offense. Two plays later, Case Keenum hit Courtland Sutton on a 30-yard touchdown.
Colby Wadman pinned the Bengals inside the 20-yard line on four of his six punts.
The Broncos finished the game plus-2 in turnover margin and improved to plus-8 over the course of this three-game winning streak.
“As a team and as a defense, we always have confidence that we can go in and win a game,” Broncos linebacker Von Miller told the media after the game. “We had that confidence coming into this game — we just didn’t want to go out there lax. We knew we were going to play well, we just didn’t want to go out there lax and give them something cheap. We didn’t do that.”
What’s also coming back into focus is when a team plays complementary football it’s prepared for anything and everything that happens on the field. In Sunday’s game, Denver was able to overcome the loss of Chris Harris Jr., Derek Wolfe and Josey Jewell. That shouldn’t surprise anyone, given the Broncos have been able to overcome significant injuries throughout the entire season.
It seems nothing rattles this team, and that’s a great place to be.
W.— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) December 3, 2018
“I just think we have a lot of confidence now, man,” Broncos defensive tackle Domata Peko told the media. “When we got that first win over the Chargers, I think they were on a five-game or six-game win streak. And then we beat Pittsburgh — they were on a five-game win streak. If you look at the playoff picture, those guys are at the top of the list it seems like in the AFC.
“And to go up there and get Ws like that, that was huge for us, and I think that just created a confidence. Yeah man, we’re really playing with a lot of confidence right now. Whenever we touch the field, we feel like we’re the best team out there. We just keep that rolling man, we should be in really good shape.”
What makes this fun is the success doesn’t shake Denver either. The players and coaches remain focused and level-headed on what they need to accomplish. For the Broncos to make their playoff dream a reality, they know they need to have the same approach and chip on their shoulder.
“Our tone has never changed,” Broncos coach Vance Joseph said. “We were playing good football. We weren’t getting blown out of the building. We never had any issues with guys not playing hard or not believing in the process. We played some of the best teams on our schedule very close, and we just didn’t finish those games. We’re not surprised where we’re currently at, and we expect to win every week.”
A month ago, if someone said complementary football followed by Denver, you might see some head-scratching. Now, it should give Broncos Country yet one more reason to feel excited about how this team is progressing.
The Broncos are becoming a complete, confident team. In the final four games of the 2018 season, that also makes them dangerous.